Well played: here's your Gaelic football team of the week

Ewan McKenna runs through his best XV from yesterday’s two provincial semi-finals. Do you agree?

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

1. David Clarke (Mayo) – The only goalkeeper not to concede a goal at the weekend and he certainly had the easiest job of the weekend. Thus his kickouts to a dominant midfield and lack of mistakes get him the spot by default.

2. Brendan McArdle (Down) – At half-time it was said he looked like a lost little boy unsure of his job. Then he got moved on to Monaghan’s best player and shadowed Conor McManus from restart to finish. It’s showed skill but it showed guts as well.

3. Ger Cafferkey (Mayo) – James Glancy has provided problems for some serious full-backs over recent seasons but this full-back was steady and the glue in a defence that was rarely opened up and only conceded a measly 0-10. Next up though, Adrian Marren.

4. Keith Higgins (Mayo) – With his side going through the motions early, he was comfortable at the back and showed leadership of the do-as-I-do variety. He took off the length of the field, pointed, then returned to defence where he was again immovable.

5. Darren Hughes (Monaghan) – Had his side won out, so much would have been credited to his return. His long-range ball striking will have made many marquee forwards jealous, his tackling will have made many marquee defenders feel the same emotion.

6. Kevin McKernan (Down) – Okay, so his first half was a struggle as those around him crumbled but he stepped forward and was the leader we’ve come to know after the restart. Good distribution, held the line at the back and had a strong second half.

7. Dessie Mone (Monaghan) – There was a moment in the first half when he ripped the ball from an opposition player, laid it off and his side scored. It was a play full of the intensity, aggression and hunger that marked his first half in particular.

8. Dick Clerkin (Monaghan) – In the pandemonium at the end at the Athletic Grounds, his wide-open missed chance hasn’t been highlighted. Maybe that’s only fair because in the first half in particular, he won so much ball and was a channel for so much more.

9. Ambrose Rogers (Down) – His county’s leader and even in the first half when they were blitzed, he was the only one to get forward with purpose, win frees, convert them and after the break he upped his game again.

10. Emlyn Mulligan (Leitrim) – It’s great to have him back after so many horrific injuries, it’s just a pity he’s returned to find his county in ruins. One of the best dead-ball strikers about, good link man and showed with a gem he can score from open play too.

11. Kevin McLaughlin (Mayo) – Really impressed in several roles from dropping back into midfield and getting his hands on kickouts to getting forward and chipping in with a more-than-healthy 1-2. Needs to do it on bigger stage for his side to move to another level.

12. Aidan Carr (Down) – Keeps Alan Dillon out of this side based on the importance of every little thing he did. His penalty set the tone for the second half in Armagh, not just for Down but also for himself and he grew into the game and hit a clutch free towards the end.

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13. Andy Moran (Mayo) – So unorthodox for a full-forward but maybe that’s what makes him so difficult to mark. We saw it against Cork in 2011, and granted he wasn’t under much pressure yesterday, but was always in the right place and can finish.

14. Conor Laverty (Down) – If he can keep up this kind of form now Benny Coulter is back, this is a side with a serious inside-forward line. Has pace, movement, more than the odd trick and crucially can finish in the space he so often creates for himself

15. Conor McManus (Monaghan) – What we saw early on was his best ever half of championship football. The ball in was good but he was unmarkable as he ran with intent and his finishing was crisp. Went through three markers.

Do you agree with Ewan’s selections? Leave your comments below.

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